Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I'm probably the last person in the neighborhood to see it, but I finally made it out to see 'The Hobbit' movie today. I've been excited to see this movie for a while since the book is the main reason I initially wanted to become a writer.

It wasn't the first book I read. I enjoyed reading before that. I can't remember what all I read, other than lots of Hardy Boys books and some Boxcar Children. They were fun and all, but it wasn't until I saw the cartoon of The Hobbit made around 1978 that my reading interest exploded. I believe it was a Friday night that the cartoon aired on TV. The next day, I went into a Book Cache (a chain of bookstores in Alaska that, sadly, no longer exist) and snatched up a copy of the book.

It blew my mind. The world was so different than anything I'd read before. The book opened up a reading frenzy within me, leading me to quickly consume The Lord of the Rings and any other fantasy novel I could get my greasy little hands on. But not only did I want to read of those worlds, I wanted to create them, too. Thus, the initial seeds of being a writer were born. So, The Hobbit is very near and dear to my heart and I was a little nervous what Peter Jackson would do to it.

Now, as for the movie, I was not disappointed. In fact, I was surprised how much Jackson stayed with the book. The additions to the movie, like Azog the Orc and the threat of Dol Guldur, can be found in the appendix of The Return of the King. Even the tale of how Thorin Oakenshield got his nickname is found there. Jackson still took liberties, but they were mainly to keep the story flowing well and to create some character development.

Yes, the movie is long, but there were only a couple of places where things seemed a little stretched to me. Jackson is telling more than one story here. Not only is there the original Hobbit story, but we're getting the beginnings of the War of the Ring. We see the behind the scenes activities of Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Radaghast, and Sauruman as they investigate the necromancer of the forest. We also get the deeper tale of the dwarfs and of the time they lost their kingdom of Erebor under Lonely Mountain.

I saw the HFR (high frame rate) 3D version since I was curious what it would look like. It was a little odd, I'll admit. I'm not sure if I liked it or not. I does have a little of a 'soap opera' look to it. At the same time, the visuals were very vivid and the action super smooth. What impressed me the most was how difficult it was to tell the real actors from the computer generated monsters. In fact, most of the time I couldn't. The scene with the three trolls blew me away at how life-like the trolls were and how seamlessly they were blended in with the actors playing the dwarfs. Not long ago, when watching the DVD of 'The Two Towers', I was disappointed in how the CG creatures stood out as not matching the lighting of the real-life footage. The monsters looked great by themselves, but you could tell they weren't real because of the contrast. Well, you don't see that contrast anymore.

Final verdict: great movie, go see it. Should youngsters? Probably not since there are some dark scenes, a lot of decapitations, and other violence that may be too much for little ones. There wasn't much blood, though. The PG-13 rating is deserved. This ain't the kid's version.

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